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Wednesday, 10 May, 2000, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Squeaky mouse to tackle RSI
The mouse could reduce risks of repetitive strain injury
By BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat correspondent Lindley Gooden

A new touch-sensitive mouse promises to make life on-line easier for millions of computer users.

The mouse prompts a computer to squeak when the user presses it too hard. This could help reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI).

Michael Macaulay, one of the creators of the new device says: "Studies have shown that the more anxious you are - you know when you're very stressed or angry - the harder you are likely to press the mouse."

Users click the mouse harder when stressed
"Changing a user's mouse-clicking habit would go a step forward in reducing the risk of Repetitive Strain Injury."

Mr Macaulay teamed up with fellow Loughborough University researcher Alistair May, who fitted extra electronics to a conventional mouse to make it touch sensitive.

"The mouse continually reports to the PC how quickly the user is pressing the button, and how hard they're pressing. If they press very hard on the mouse it actually squeaks," says Mr May.

Good news for games fans

Bunny Martin, an RSI consultant, says there is a real risk as we increasingly click on mice and tap on keyboards.

"If you wiggled a piece of electrical wire up and down, over and over again, for seven hours a day, five days a week, it starts to fray and break," says Ms Martin.

"The difference between a computer and a human being is that we're not robots and I can't unscrew your arm and re-wire your wiring."

PC gamers could also benefit from having extra control of the mouse. Touch could be designed to control speed, firepower or movement and increase the level of interactivity.

Games fan Laurel says he hopes it will boost his score: "Sometimes the mouse button's used as your forward movement key and you have to hold another button if you want to run, whereas if you can have the amount of pressure you put down as your speed it just makes things so much easier."

The new mouse could also give designers far better control of their work. For example they would be able to control the thickness of a line in a drawing application.

The makers are now searching for backers to mass-produce the mouse and develop the accompanying software.

See also:

24 Nov 97 | Business
23 Dec 99 | Health
22 Nov 99 | Americas
16 Jul 99 | Health
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